Is the ace back for good?
That's what the Giants are wondering after right-hander Matt Cain dazzled in his last start against the Dodgers for his first win of the season. Cain allowed just one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings on Sunday, improving to 1-2 on the season with a 5.57 ERA.
San Francisco will get its answer on Friday when the Braves and Giants square off at AT&T Park.
After allowing seven runs on seven hits on April 18 to fall to 0-2 with a hefty 7.15 ERA, Cain has had three straight starts in which he's tossed at least six innings and allowed four runs or fewer.
"It wasn't something I was proud of," Cain said of his early-season struggles. "I didn't pitch well for the guys. I needed to step it up. ... I got better as the game went along. I made better pitches and got ahead in the count."
Cain will have some tough competition to get win No. 2 with Tim Hudson on the hill for Atlanta. Hudson is 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA in his last three starts.
Hudson (4-1, 3.83 ERA) recorded his second straight win on Sunday against the Mets, compiling career win No. 201 by allowing just three runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings. He also struck out seven while walking one.
"I felt all right out there," Hudson said. "Early on, I was making some pitches. They came out pretty aggressive and I was able to get some quick outs."
Hudson's success this season isn't a surprise to former A's teammate and Giants starter Barry Zito.
"We knew that was coming as long as he could stay healthy," Zito said. "He's overcome some tough injuries. He's still battling, and it's great to see."
Braves: Venters' first mound session cut short
Reliever Jonny Venters felt left elbow discomfort on Thursday while throwing off a mound for the first time since receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection on April 2.
Venters threw approximately 10 pitches before cutting his bullpen session short at AT&T Park. The left-handed reliever was planning to throw at least 20 pitches.
Venters battled elbow discomfort during the final two weeks of Spring Training and received the PRP injection after being evaluated by Dr. James Andrews.
"It just wasn't as comfortable as I wish it would have been," Venters said. "We'll see what tomorrow brings and we'll go from there."
Giants: Casilla out with cyst in right knee
Reliever Santiago Casilla will likely be sidelined for a few days to cope with the discomfort caused by a cyst in his right knee, manager Bruce Bochy said before Thursday's game against the Braves.
Bochy said the Giants have known about the cyst since last year but its never been an issue.
On Wednesday, Casilla faced two Philadelphia batters in the eighth and probably would have finished the inning, but the pain forced him to leave the game.
George Kontos and Chad Gaudin, the other right-handed relievers besides closer Sergio Romo, will likely play more prominent roles in Bochy's bullpen plans while Casilla rests.
• Braves starter Brandon Beachy completed his last live batting practice session on Thursday. If all goes well during his bullpen session on Monday, Beachy could begin his Minor League rehab assignment on Wednesday or Thursday.
• Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will miss Friday and Saturday's games against the Giants while attending daughter Gigi's graduation from Georgia Southern University.
• "Mystery baseballs," a popular item during Giants Spring Training, will return Friday as the Giants Community Fund and the Giants Wives combine to stage a fundraiser for people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing and the fertilizer-plant fire and explosion in West Texas.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.